Lake Baikal…

  • is 1,637 meters, or 1.02 miles deep.
  • holds 23,000 cubic kilometers of water, more than all the Great Lakes combined.
  • is home to the Nerpa seal (the only seal species on Earth that spends all of its time in fresh water).
  • is also home to over 3,400 species of plants and animals, about 80% of which are endemic to Baikal (note: scientists suspect many more species exist within Lake Baikal, but they’re yet unrecorded).
  • ranks among the sunniest locations in the world; the sun is shining, on average, 2,583 hours a year.

Western Coastline of Baikal

The Lake

Over 20 million years old and the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal makes up an estimated 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater, and has the greatest volume of any freshwater lake on the planet.

Lake Baikal is located in South Siberia, near to Mongolia. The primary source of its water, the Selenga River, eminates from Lake Hobsgol, in Mongolia. The city of Irkutsk is one of the largest in Siberia. It was built on the Angara river, from which Lake Baikal drains its immense amount of water.

The size of Lake Baikal can be attributed to its age. The oldest lake on Earth, Baikal has been formed over millions of years through the divergence of plates. It first existed as a shallow rift valley that filled with water with time. The rift itself is around seven miles deep but six miles of silt at the bottom of the trench has kept the Lake itself at only slightly more than a mile in depth.

Nevertheless, it is still the deepest lake in the world, and provides ample living space for hundreds of freshwater species, such as the rotund Nerpa seal!:

Seals sunbathing on a smaller Ushkanii Island

For more on Baikal, click here